Murray into last four in Brisbane
Andy Murray cruised into the semi-finals of the Brisbane International with a 6-4 7-6 (7/3) win over Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.
Murray served three aces in winning the first set, taking his only break point and saving two on his own serve.
The British number one served two double-faults at 3-4 in the second but kept his nerve to hold and remain on terms in the set. Istomin held after three deuces to lead 6-5 and the set continued to a tie-break with neither player facing a break point.
Istomin led 2-0 after an early point against the serve but Murray hit back to take the breaker 7/3 and set up a clash with Japan's Kei Nishikori, who beat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov by exactly the same scoreline, 6-4 7-6 (7/3).
Murray told www.atpworldtour.com: "For the most part it was pretty good quality. He served well for the majority of the first set, and especially well at the beginning the second.
"I didn't really have that many chances on returns, so I needed to serve well today. That helped."
Nishikori, the fifth seed and world number 19, hopes his run at the tournament can spark another strong year after he reached last season's Australian Open quarter-final.
"It's going to be a big step year for me," he said. "I will try to get into the top 10, hopefully, and stay healthy and stay strong. That's the goal for this year."
The other semi-final will be contested by Grigor Dimitrov and Marcos Baghdatis, who both upset seeded players.
Dimitrov, from Bulgaria, served 17 aces in a 6-3 6-2 win over seventh-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer while Baghdatis, the Cypriot who reached the 2006 Australian Open final, beat French third seed Gilles Simon 6-3 6-4.
Baghdatis has not won a tour event since 2010 but said: "What I'm focused on is to continue the same rhythm I'm playing with, continue playing matches like that, and finding the consistency that I've been looking for the last few years, which I don't have. I think that the title will come once I find that."